I am writing a series called The Best Jobs in the World. This series is dedicated to people who have rare or super cool jobs. My aim is to give people options, hope, or motivation to people who don’t feel the need to go and get a regular nine-to-five.
Tonight, I got to speak with a good friend and aspiring actor, Dan Prevette. His credits include a BudLight commercial, Inside the Extras Studio, I Hate It!, and the independent film Diani and Devine Meet the Apocalypse. Dan would not allow me to call him an actor outright due to his limited credits. Either way, I’m extremely excited to bring you this interview.
EC: Dan, thank you for joining me tonight.
Dan Prevette: Absolutely. I’m honored.
EC: Last I remember, you were doing stand-up comedy but now you’re doing acting.
Dan Prevette: I came to this point in my life I just kind of had to accept the fact that I didn’t have the DNA for stand-up. They are exceptionally honest and hilarious people, but I never felt like I deeply belonged. I love entertaining people and telling a story, so stand-up was going to be an avenue for me becoming a comedic actor.
I always resonated with story comedians more than stand-up comedians. Honestly, improv got me through college. There wasn’t a lot I liked about my school.
EC: Why did you choose Southeastern University? It doesn’t seem to fit you.
Dan Prevette: State schools were too expensive for out-of-state students. I was a missionary living in a different country so my choices were limited financially. I was a hard worker and a good student, but I wasn’t a “brainiac” that was going to get tons of looks from schools.
I ended up looking at private Christian colleges and got scholarships to schools on the west coast like Biola and Vanguard. My dad, who has his PhD, received an adjunct position at Southeastern in Florida. They cut me a huge deal and also gave me scholarship money for having good grades and being a missionary.
Some of the struggles at the small school included being the head writer for the college TV show. They wanted me to be less edgy and I knew acting was going to be more my fit.
EC: When you were younger did you want to be an actor?
Dan Prevette: No. Even throughout most of my 20s, there’s been this exploratory trip. I watched Saturday Night Live every week growing up. We had it made watching Will Ferrell, Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, Jimmy Fallon, and much more. But I had no concept that this could be a job. It never occurred to me that these actors were kids who were class clowns or got into trouble.
EC: So no dreams?
Dan Prevette: I thought I wanted to be a musician. I figured I was going to get really good at guitar. I thought at least I could be a studio guitarist. Deep down I wanted to be a rock star.
I have always like being up in front of people. I didn’t dislike or disrespect teachers or authority. I just really wanted to be heard. I even got suspended one time for yelling at a teacher. They all told my parents “He’s a good kid, he’s really bright, but he just can’t shut up.”
EC: So let’s fast forward to today. You just booked your first national commercial for BudLight, correct?
Dan Prevette: Yes!
EC: Explain what it took and how it feels.
Dan Prevette: I want to phrase this so it’s what I want to hear four years ago (laughs). I did open mic stand-up for one year before anyone ever asked me to be on a show or anything. I showed up every single week.
An agent randomly saw me while I was doing stand-up at a Hungarian restaurant. She didn’t even see me perform. She saw me hanging out with other comedians and asked them if I was a comedian. She asked one of the guys to hand me her card.
I ended up meeting her and she asked if I’d like to sign across the board. It means I was signed theatrically and commercially. So after I was signed, I literally auditioned for a year and a half without booking anything.
They say you have to get used to hearing “no” in LA. No, you have to get used to hearing nothing at all. I was insanely beat up. But in one weekend I auditioned for a BudLight commercial, had my car totaled, and ended up getting the job.
My agent, Alex, was extremely nonchalant about it. The biggest thing it has done is instill in me a bunch of confidence. I finally got to tell myself “You’re not crazy. You have to keep trying.” I have to give credit to my commercial agent for continuing to try for me. I’m incredibly fortunate.
EC: So is acting something where you can reach rock bottom?
Dan Prevette: (Laughs). I’ve always been told that if you can do anything else and be happy, then you shouldn’t be acting.
EC: What is the pay range for a national commercial?
Dan Prevette: Without getting into all the SAG stuff, for the day I was paid six times more than I had ever been paid for one day of work. Luckily, the commercial was picked up and aired. When it airs on a major network, they have to pay you at least $50 each time it shows. Some commercials will air 50 times and others will air 2,000 times.
Needless to say, I ended up making multiple thousands of dollars.
EC: If you had Alex Rodriguez money, would you still act?
Dan Prevette: If I had Alex Rodriguez money, I would sure as shit be producing and creating opportunities for myself and friends to create projects together.
EC: What separates you from other 6’7″ jovial actors?
Dan Prevette: Ultimately, that’s not my job to answer. The most valuable thing about me is probably my sense of timing and sense of style of comedy. I’m still speaking as someone who is still trying to learn how to be distinct and different. I would hope my size would get me into the room and then quickly become the least interesting thing about me.
EC: Can’t some actors like Will Smith and Keanu Reeves get by on charisma instead of ability?
Dan Prevette: Film is so intimate. It’s definitely good to have excellent acting abilities, but yes you can get by on charisma. There are two different types and both are valid.
As far as comedy, I don’t ever think I’m that original. I’m just saying the thing that everyone else is thinking. It comes from my deep internal desire to alleviate any unspoken angst. It’s my fear that everyone will experience something like an awkward situation and then just ignore it.
EC: In one paragraph, what advice would give to someone who has made the mistake of driving to LA to start an acting career without any experience and limited funds?
Dan Prevette: My biggest piece of advice would be to swallow a big humble pie. It’s not going to be glamorous. Before you begin to think about becoming a big movie star, you have to surround yourself with a good community of people who love you and care about you. You have to have people who are going to tell you that you are valued. And I don’t say this to be self serving, because it’s just as important to value others. And of course, you have to study and hone your craft.
EC: Dan, I really appreciate your time. It’s always good to catch up and see what acting milestone you’re reaching.
Dan Prevette: I am always happy to speak about my acting career. Thank you!
Stay tuned for the next interview in my series The Best Jobs in the World.